Dogfight Over Karachi

1386675843016Khademul Islam at Granta:

For me the war began in the predawn dark on the fourth. My father shook me awake from sleep. ‘Get up!’ he commanded urgently. As my head cleared I heard the air raid siren. And through its wail came, muted but steady, a droning noise, like heavy motors in neutral gear, from somewhere in the sky. Bombers, I realized. I scrambled out of bed and we – my parents, younger brother, sister and our servant boy Bhola – hustled out of the side door to stand beneath the main stairs, which is what the civil defense authorities recommended during bombing raids. The upstairs family – the two small sons not quite fully awake – were already there. The other upstairs family had stayed put. The side door of our neighbouring flat, Tariq’s, was ajar and I heard voices coming from inside. But they didn’t join us beneath the stairs. We knew why. We were two Bengali families standing there, and they were Punjabis, there was no way they going to cower with us beneath the stairs, bombs or no bombs, air raids or no air raids. Especially not during an Indian air attack. Pakistan was in its death throes and this war was the final act of separation between East and West Pakistan.

Seconds later the anti-aircraft guns opened up with a vengeance.

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